Shaq to Spurs: Don't count on it

There is no debate about who ranks as the most provocative free-name still available on the open market: Shaquille O’Neal.

The notion that Shaq is going to wind up in San Antonio, though, continues to be overstated.

It would obviously be fascinating theatre to see Shaq backing up Tim Duncan, playing for Gregg Popovich and returning to the city where he dominated high school ball after all those years at the forefront of a rivalry that has often prompted Pop to liken the Lakers to the Soviet Union.

However …

This isn’t merely a long shot because the Spurs aren’t exactly known for chemistry experiments. The reality is that San Antonio has devoted all its energies (and available free-agent cash) to finally bringing Tiago Splitter over from Europe and re-signing Matt Bonner.

And it’s safe to say that Shaq isn’t looking to sign anywhere on a low-dollar leftovers with a team short of minutes, too.

He’s still getting interest from the Atlanta Hawks – where he would likely be a ticket-seller in addition to a Dwight Howard foil – and would naturally love to finally land in Dallas after maintaining a longtime friendship with Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

But the prospect of Shaq winding up in black and silver, tantalizing as that sounds as a sidebar to everything happening in Miami, realistically can’t happen.

P.S.: I’m not buying Shaq as a Heat target, either. Not a likely chemistry experiment on Pat Riley’s radar.